Business Today

Review and technology

We try out the latest entrant in the small car segment and Samsung's new superphone.

Kushan Mitra        Print Edition: September 19, 2010

Nissan Micra
Middle-of-the-Road

It looks very 1960s, a throwback to the old Austin Mini, with the bug-eyed headlamps and rectangular tail lights. Its performance is positively middle-of-the-road. In fact, when driving through the city, you do sometimes feel that you are changing gears a bit too frequently, and while the car can be zesty, you really need to mash the gear lever to extract performance.

One of the reasons for the rather uninspiring gearing seems to be the intent to make the car very economical. Test-driving through the Delhi traffic, occasionally in blinding rain, the Micra returned 14 kilometres to a litre of petrol, with the air conditioner on and the music blaring. We drove the top-end XV model, which comes with a push-button start and automatic climate control, but it does cost a bit. The entry-level is aggressively priced, and though the Micra does stand out from the middling crowd, we did miss the fun factor.

  • Retro looks stand out; excellent fuel economy
  • Top-end models pricey; quite average in terms of driving pleasure
  • Price: Starts at Rs 398,000 (ex-showroom, New Delhi); Micra XV Rs 528,800 (ex-showroom, New Delhi)

Samsung Galaxy S
Cut Above the Rest

What strikes you about the Galaxy S when you start it is the sheer brightness of the AMOLED screen that Samsung uses. This is definitely the brightest phone in the market and works brilliantly no matter what the lighting conditions are. You get so obsessed with the screen that you almost forget to notice how amazingly light the device is.

Also, this Android device lets you install a lot of interesting applications and run them simultaneously. The Galaxy S's battery life is not bad per se, but when you load the phone up with applications and have some running simultaneously, it drains surprisingly fast. So, having a car charger for it is not a bad idea. That said, the device keeps running despite several applications and its memory management is superior to most other Android devices.

  • Brilliant and large screen; very light; fast processor
  • Battery life could be better; dictionary extremely irritating; camera could be better
  • Price: Rs 31,500

Web Site
Google Goggles

Google's visual search app for Android devices is fun, but is still not nifty.

The latest update for Google Goggles allows users to take a picture of foreign language text, which the application analyses and translates. Say you want to see the menu at a Parisian café beside the Musée d'Orsay and wonder what Escargot means. Click a picture and voila! And if you are really confused about that pointy steel tower a few kilometres beyond the café, click a picture and Goggles will get you the answer.

The irritating thing about Goggles is that it is not really fast. It also might not work for languages that do not use the Roman script. One reason for the success of Google's search engine was not just the superiority of its results, but the speed with which it delivered those results. Goggles is a fascinating glimpse into the future, but it has to get faster. Until then, you are probably better off asking a Frenchman what things mean and are.

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